So we went to Provence. Yes, the Provence of Van Gogh, of the bridge of Avignon, of the Palace of the Popes, of all the other painters and artists who have ever lived there, of the lavender and poppy fields, of the smells and the food and the watermills. That Provence.
If someone had told me ten or even five years ago that I would go there, my head would have exploded with joy and anticipation.
In fact, even three weeks ago my head was exploding with joy and anticipation.
Then, we got there.
The first day the temperature reached about 36 degrees Celsius (about 97 Fahrenheit).
“No big deal,” I thought, “this is a freak weather accident. It will pass.”
We took our yearly vacation in June – in the first part even, to make sure that we don’t hit temperatures like that.
But we did.
The heat climbed even higher, up to 38, 39, 40 Celsius (about 102 Fahrenheit).
They haven’t had temperatures like that in France since 1945 – they said.
This lasted for two weeks, the entire time that we were there.
So all the lavender fields, all the fragrances, all the sites – and all my joy – vanished in puffs of hot air.
I’m not one of those people who love the heat. A woman I know has to have thick cotton socks on her feet at all times – and she lives in the desert. By choice. She says she loves it. I would much rather put something on, than have nothing to remove to calm the burns.
Add to all that the fact that I am almost six months pregnant… not an easy feat even under normal circumstances.
So… there you go: the vacation of a lifetime that was ruined by the weather.
How could I let that happen?
I can’t explain it. I used to be one of those people who scoffed and huffed and puffed when people complained about said weather. But this time… I just dropped somewhere really low inside my body, trying to move as little as possible and not even think about it much – so it wouldn’t start hurting. The lizard state in a human body. Something like that.
Five years ago I didn’t have my son (or, depending on the month we are talking about, not even my husband who had not yet come into my life). I was all about travels and explorations. Nowadays I can explore just as well my boy’s adventures in the swimming pool and my husband trying to navigate a new city (or one of our fights – ha!).
In the grand scheme of things Provence just isn’t that important anymore. It’s nice, to be sure – and my head will explode with joy the next time we go there AND I can actually enjoy it.
Sure, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get to see and do and live everything I wanted to. I am more than disappointed because I was in pain. But… oh well. Perspective. It is not the end of the world. Not even close.
To be completely honest, I am mostly proud of the way my husband and I managed to make it through a very taxing time and a few heat-induced fights without making a big deal out of it. And that is something that contributes mightily to the construction of our world.
Here is a picture of Gordes, a village in Provence which was built on top of a small mountain. It is spectacular and it is voted every year one of the most beautiful villages in France.
But, you know… I found it nice, sure, but very pretentious too. There is a pricey hotel smack in the middle of it that takes up most of the Western side of the hill. A very expensive real estate office keeps its shutters closed – they probably open only by appointment. Nothing wrong with that… I’m just sayin’ that the place is sort of… rigid and stuffy now. There is no spontaneity in it anymore. You don’t see the real life of the village, because it is hidden in the sea of postcards and postcard pictures.
I have seen much better places, with as much charm – if not more.
But you have to get close to them in order to see all that. From afar, the perspective is not quite the same.
Funny thing about perspective… you have to constantly adjust the zoom, depending on what you want and need…
(cooling down at last, in the coolness of my Belgian forest)
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